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Debt collection laws in every state
How the state and federal government protects you.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
The main law that protects consumers is the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), though many states have other laws to add additional protections. If you think a debt collector is violating the FDCPA, file a complaint against it with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
What is the FDCPA?
The FDCPA is a federal law that prevents debt collectors from harassing or misleading consumers. It covers debt collection for mortgages, credit cards, personal loans, medical debt and other types of debt for personal use.
How does it protect me?
Before you sign up with a debt relief company
Debt relief companies typically charge a percentage of a customer’s debt or a monthly program fee for their services. And they aren’t always transparent about these costs or drawbacks that can negatively affect your credit score. You might pay other fees for third-party settlement services or setting up new accounts, which can leave you in a worse situation than when you signed up.
Consider alternatives before signing up with a debt relief company:
- Payment extensions. Companies you owe may be willing to extend your payment due date or put you on a longer payment plan if you ask.
- Nonprofit credit counseling. Look for free debt-management help from nonprofit organizations like the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.
- Debt settlement. If you can manage to pay a portion of the bill, offer the collection agency a one-time payment as a settlement. Collection agencies are often willing to accept a lower payment on your debt to close the account.
Debt collector laws by state
While each state must follow the FDCPA, most have additional laws that regulate how debt collectors interact with consumers. Use the table below to learn how your state protects you.
I feel like my rights were violated. What can I do?
If you believe a debt collector has violated the law, the next step is to file a complaint. If it’s a FDCPA violation, you can file a complaint with the FTC. Otherwise, you can file a complaint with your state attorney general’s office.
Federal and state debt collection regulations are meant to ensure fair measures are taken for both the borrower and the collector. Familiarizing yourself with these laws can not only help you navigate the debt collection process, but can also help you avoid scams.
Read our guide to dealing with debt collectors to learn more about how it all works.
Frequently asked questions
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